Star Wars: Lando: Double or Nothing – Rodney Barnes & Paolo Villanelli (Marvel)

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Lando Calrissian was always one of the more intriguing characters from the original trilogy of our favourite films. Like Han Solo he was a roguish swindler with a sly charm and an eye for the ladies but as Han was convinced to join the Rebellion, Lando opted to sell them out to save his own skin. He did make amends by Return of the Jedi but the teased back story that he was the original owner of the bucket of bolts our man Han flies about in always suggested there was a tale to tell. Well, that tale has been told now in the Solo movie with a young Han and Lando getting themselves in to various escapades and, yes, having a high stakes game or two of Sabacc. It seems the young Lando was something of a hit with the fans and various theories about his sexuality and relationship with co-pilot droid L3-37, as well as his flair for fashion and prodigious amount of capes and scarves all over the internet if you know where to look and really have that amount of time on your hands. It thus follows that a short run of his own title was inevitable.

Double or Nothing then finds our (anti) hero sought out, on account of his reputation, by a band of desperados lead by Kristiss, the daughter of a man enslaved with the rest of his people by the Empire on some galactic back water. Smuggling weapons to the oppressed is not immediately tempting enough for Calrissian, though Kristiss herself is. The old dog. Off to the grim industrial waste land of Kulgroon he zooms then and unfriendly locals, bleak terrain, unconvinced apathetic slaves working in a droid facility who are in need of a charismatic leader and a “So who’s with me!?” speech await. Of course, there’s the obligatory Imperial entanglements that follow in a series of wham bam thank you Ma’am Star Wars-y fun and frolics that’s big, bold, bright and colourful with a the pace never lets up, Yep, it’s certainly a fun read but it’s nothing you’ve not read before if you follow Star Wars books and comics. Lando: Double or Nothing comes across like a pick n mix or Greatest Hits series of adventures and antics. The plan goes awry, a gang of locals who bear a grudge capture our man and force him to fight in an arena against the biggest and baddest of their brethren prompting Lando himself to comment “This is so cliché”. My thoughts exactly. There’s tight scrapes aplenty that surely mean the end for our hero now but he just about manages to come out smelling of roses and an army of unconvinced slaves who just need someone to inspire them to rebel might just meet that someone. Who could that be I wonder? Spoiler alert …

What could make this book stand out despite the hackneyed storyline is the interaction between Lando and his navigator droid L3-37 who comes across as a sort of modern day militant campaigner who is so right on it hurts. Droids are people too! Calrissian is more of an old school smooth operator who clearly rubs the “female” L3 up the wrong way constantly and seemingly deliberately. As a double act, L3’s relentless sarcasm and PC ranting coupled with Lando’s almost unbearable smugness and arrogance, makes for a fine pairing with bantering bouncing back and forth throughout. Imagine if the Cat from Red Dwarf was stuck in a ship with an angry feminist version of Kryton and you’re nearly there. It’s fun for a while but wears thin by the end. Much as I’d love to love Lando, he’s no Han Solo is he? Marv Gadgie

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